As an artist, I am continuously searching for different ways to create new and exciting art. I draw my inspiration from my Haudenosaunee culture and from my everyday life. Something that hasn't been done by any Haudenosaunee artist is combining visual art with the art of dance. My thesis consists of experimental abstract painting with Haudenosaunee social dancing and music.

As the exploration progressed, the paintings changed from just dripped paint on a bare canvas, to a more organized approach that include elaborate layers, colors, and appreciation of Haudenosaunee social dancing. I recorded my work with video, which not only gave a visual documentation but it also added a performance element to the artwork. Performances consisted of me dancing on pre-painted canvases, with no music for the viewer to hear. This process was all about the act of making art, and not associating the act as a dance performance, a very important point I made for this project.

Adding the cultural elements, such as Haudenosaunee design and beadwork to the painting, ties it all together that I am my culture, and I am my people. As I continued with my thesis, I invited my community where I live to participate in my dance paintings. This demonstrates the importance of dance not only for me, but also for the people within my community.

Throughout the year, my thesis has made some dramatic changes and transformations as I progressed with my paintings. Many aspects of my life including my deep personal emotions and feelings went into every piece. The idea of dancing on a canvas has turned into so much more than that. The painting became my visual portrait of my emotions, and were glorified and polished by the beauty and strength of my culture. It all began with a wild idea and many, many hours of experimenting and intuition. As a result, I not only created visually powerful paintings, I expressed deep emotion that cannot always be verbalized.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Painting, Abstract--Themes, motives; Painting, Abstract--Technique; Iroquois dance--Pictorial works; Dance in art; Emotions in art; Performance art

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Fine Arts Studio (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Art (CIAS)


Tom Lightfoot

Advisor/Committee Member

Luvon Sheppard

Advisor/Committee Member

Carole Woodlock


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at NC196.A2 P69 2013


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes